Emma Stone has become the latest woman in Hollywood to speak out about gender pay inequality, saying that some of her male co-stars have taken cuts to level the gap between their wages.
“In my career so far, I’ve needed my male co-stars to take a pay cut so that I may have parity with them,” Ms. Stone said in a conversation with Billie Jean King, the former professional tennis player, published by Out Magazine on Thursday. “And that’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair.”
Such paycheck concessions from men helped Ms. Stone get paid more for future films, she explained. “If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life,” she said.
It was not clear which male co-stars she was referring to. Ms. Stone’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Stone, who won the Academy Award for best actress this year for “La La Land,” and also played major roles in “Birdman,” “The Help,” and the “Amazing Spider-Man” movies, is currently promoting “The Battle of the Sexes,” a new film based on a 1973 tennis match between Ms. King and a male tennis, player Bobby Riggs. Ms. King was a pioneer in fighting for gender-pay parity; she lobbied the U.S. Open vigorously about the disparity between women’s and men’s prize money. The movie will be released in September.
Emphasizing that Ms. King’s story remained relevant today, Ms. Stone said, “I go more to the blanket issue that women, in general, are making four-fifths at best.” Ms. King interjected: “White women. If you’re African-American or Hispanic it goes down, and then Asian-Americans make 90 cents to the dollar.”
In the United States in 2016, women’s median weekly full-time earnings were 81.9 percent of men’s median weekly earnings. For Hispanic women in comparison with white men, that figure was 57.2 percent, and for black women compared with white men it was 62.5 percent.
It’s difficult to determine the precise wage gap for Hollywood in particular. As Ms. Stone noted in the interview, factors including the relative sizes of roles, box-office sales, and genre of films make it hard to compare salaries across genders in the industry. Still, it’s clear that many big-budget female stars make less than their male counterparts. One 2014 study showed that female stars’ average earnings per film increase until they turn 34 and then decrease rapidly; meanwhile, male stars’ average earnings per film increase until they turn 51 and then remain stable.
Other stars have spoken up about this: Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay in 2015 when leaked documents showed she was paid less than her co-star Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle.” Amy Adams, another of the co-stars in that movie, has also spoken out as well.
In some cases, and as Ms. Lawrence suggested in her essay, stars propose that the solution is for women to negotiate more aggressively. This notion — also made popular in business circles by Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”— has been criticized both for its failure to address the wage gap on a systemic level or to be a real recourse for women who aren’t already in positions of economic power.
Efforts to reach several co-stars through their publicists were unsuccessful on Friday.